Best Music Universities In The UK – 2023 Guide
Unleash your musical aspirations and embark on a harmonious journey through the vibrant world of music education in the United Kingdom. Welcome to our exhilarating 2023 guide, where we unveil the finest of music universities that will ignite your passion and propel your talents to new heights. Prepare to immerse yourself in a symphony of knowledge, innovation, and artistic expression as we unveil the very best music institutions that the UK has to offer.
Table of Contents
Should I Get a Music Degree?
Deciding whether getting a music degree is a good option depends on various factors and individual circumstances. While the value of a music degree can be subjective, it offers several advantages and opportunities for aspiring musicians and music enthusiasts.
Comprehensive Education: Pursuing a music degree provides a structured curriculum that covers various aspects of music theory, history, composition, performance techniques, and more. It equips students with a well-rounded musical education, enhancing their skills and knowledge.
Skill Development: Music degrees focus on honing technical proficiency, musicality, and performance abilities. Through dedicated practice, ensemble work, and guidance from experienced faculty, students can refine their skills and grow as musicians.
Networking and Collaboration: Music programmes often foster a vibrant community of talented individuals. Collaborating with fellow students, professors, and industry professionals can create valuable connections and opportunities for future collaborations and career prospects.
Access to Resources: Universities with music programmes offer access to state-of-the-art facilities, practice rooms, recording studios, and music libraries. These resources can significantly enhance the learning experience and provide valuable tools for artistic exploration.
However, it’s important to note that success in the music industry often relies on a combination of talent, hard work, networking, and entrepreneurial skills. It may not always be necessary to obtain a music degree to pursue a career in music. Some musicians have found success through self-study, mentorship, independent projects, or alternative paths.
What are the Career Opportunities?
A music degree can open up a range of career opportunities in the music industry and related fields. Here are some potential career paths for individuals with a music degree:
Performer: Graduates can pursue careers as solo performers, ensemble members, or session musicians. They can perform in orchestras, bands, choirs, theaters, clubs, cruise ships, or as solo artists.
Music Educator: Many music degree holders become teachers, instructing students of all ages in private lessons, schools, community centers, or music academies. They can specialise in teaching instruments, voice, music theory, or conducting ensembles.
Composer/Arranger: Those with a passion for composition can work as composers, writing music for films, TV shows, video games, advertising, or other multimedia projects. They can also arrange music for different ensembles or create original compositions for performance.
Music Producer/Engineer: Music graduates can pursue careers in the recording industry, working as producers or audio engineers in studios. They collaborate with artists to achieve desired sounds, oversee recording sessions, mix and master tracks, and ensure high-quality audio production.
Music Therapist: Music degree holders can explore the field of music therapy, using music to improve the physical, emotional, and mental well-being of individuals with diverse needs. They work in hospitals, rehabilitation centers, schools, or community organisations.
Arts Administrator: Graduates can work in arts organisations, festivals, concert halls, or record labels in administrative roles. They manage operations, plan events, coordinate logistics, handle marketing and promotion, or work in artist management.
Music Journalism: Music enthusiasts can pursue careers in music journalism, writing reviews, articles, or interviews for magazines, newspapers, online publications, or working as music critics.
It’s important to note that the music industry is highly competitive and often requires perseverance, networking, and adaptability. Many musicians and music professionals also engage in multiple career paths simultaneously or diversify their skills to increase their opportunities.
Best 5 Music Universities in the UK
Here are the best universities for music degrees in the UK entering 2024:
1. Cambridge and Oxford
While music has been a part of the rich history of these fine institutions, they host some of the best facilities and music libraries in any British university. You can find the world famous Bate Collection of Musical Instruments in Oxford, where the faculty also has a gamelan orchestra. Throughout the years, some of the very best in the industry have stepped through these gates.
The University of Cambridge boasts an impressive lineup of individuals who have either studied or taught there. Among them are renowned composers like Judith Weir, Errollyn Wallen, Thomas Adès, and Academy Award-winning film composer Steven Price. The university has also nurtured talented performers such as Joanna MacGregor and Mark Padmore. Esteemed conductors including John Eliot Gardiner and Nicholas Collon have graced its halls, and notable writers and broadcasters like Sara Mohr-Pietsch (Radio 3) have contributed to its intellectual tapestry. Additionally, Cambridge has played host to crossover artists like Delia Derbyshire and Clean Bandit, further enriching its vibrant musical legacy.
2. University of Southampton
Among all the Russell Group universities, the University of Southampton offers the most choice: of style, instrument and specialisation, from medieval to pop and from composition to musicology. This makes the 3-year BA Music degree a broader experience for all students. While everything is great here, you have the opportunity to spend one semester abroad as well, further expanding your horizons.
Find out what it’s like to study music at the University of Southampton
3. Durham University
The BA Music in Durham University combines the traditional and the modern in the study of music, exploring diverse genres from the past and present and developing exciting new approaches in musicology, composition (acoustic and electroacoustic), analysis, ethnomusicology, music and science, and performance. Be prepared to go through nineteenth- and twentieth-century British music, Indian and Korean music, popular music, music technology, conducting, music psychology, opera, analysis, and contemporary composition. Also, all this will be take place at the heart of a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Durham City. Exciting? I think so too.
4. Guildhall School of Music & Drama
The Bachelor of Music Honours degree at Guildhall School is centred around world-leading one-to-one tuition for performers, composers and electronic musicians. The school offers training in the following principal study areas: Strings, Wind, Brass, Percussion, Keyboard, Vocal Studies, Composition, Electronic & Produced Music and Jazz. Besides that, you can also begin your musical career with partnership organisations such as the Barbican, London Symphony Orchestra and the BBC Symphony Orchestra.
5. Royal Holloway, University of London
The BMus at Royal Holloway is ranked third in the UK for research quality (REF 2014) and the only music department in the country to hold a prestigious Regius Professorship. The well connected faculty also allows you to have access to connections such as Wigmore Hall, the BBC Proms, Royal Opera House. In addition, you will have a chance to work with with professional conductors and receive coaching from leading professional groups such as the King’s Singers and the London Mozart Players.
Listen to what Solomon has to say about studying music at Royal Holloway.
Music University Rankings in the UK
Here is the latest list of the best universities for music in the UK as we enter 2024:
|Rank||Institution||Entry Standards||Student Satisfaction||Research Quality||Continuation||Graduate prospects outcomes||Graduate prospects on track||Overall Score|
|1||University of Cambridge||204||4.03||3.58||99.2||82||88||100|
|2||University of Oxford||198||3.91||3.08||100||88||84||97.3|
|3||University of Southampton||168||4.03||3.31||98.8||86||96||96|
|4||University of Manchester||206||4.03||3.5||96.4||70||70||95.4|
|5||University of Sheffield||169||4.2||3.32||97.3||82||88||94.9|
|7||University of Leeds||186||3.88||3.47||99||66||76||93.3|
|8||Guildhall School of Music & Drama||157||4.07||3.28||97.4||90||82||93.3|
|9||Royal Holloway, University of London||175||3.89||3.68||97.5||72||74||93|
|10||King's College London, University of London||174||3.71||3.61||91.6||94||76||92.8|
|11||University of Birmingham||170||3.89||3.21||95.1||82||84||91.9|
|12||University of Surrey||167||4.19||3.07||98.7||76||72||91.5|
|13||University of Bristol||168||4||3.41||98.5||72||68||91.4|
|14||Royal Northern College of Music||150||3.89||2.76||98.3||90||78||89.3|
|15||University of York||156||4.15||3.29||95.5||74||66||89|
|16||The University of Edinburgh||206||3.68||3.39||95.3||70||62||88.3|
|17||Royal Academy of Music, University of London||150||3.96||2.45||96.8||90||80||88.1|
|19||Queen's University Belfast||160||3.85||3.2||98.3||64||68||87.7|
|20||University of Glasgow||213||3.79||3.44||93.9||60||74||87.6|
|21||Birmingham City University||156||4.01||3.14||95.7||70||78||87.1|
|22||University of Nottingham||141||3.91||3.43||96.8||64||78||86.6|
|24||Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance||132||3.73||2.92||95.8||80||76||84.7|
|25||Royal College of Music||131||3.96||3.01||99.2||84.6|
|26||Royal Conservatoire of Scotland||184||3.68||2.83||97.5||74||72||84.3|
|27||University of Plymouth||139||3.66||3.19||91.2||78||72||83.8|
|28||University of East London||131||4.13||2.29||98||82||72||83.6|
|29||University of Aberdeen||171||4.26||2.74||90.4||64||92||83.1|
|30||University of Liverpool||160||4.01||3.1||92.9||52||56||82.9|
|33||University of Huddersfield||131||4.29||3.56||90.2||58||60||82.4|
|34||University of Brighton||128||3.83||3.27||96||82.4|
|35||City, University of London||140||3.66||3.52||88.7||82|
|36||University of Kent||136||3.59||3.56||90.5||58||72||81.4|
|37||University of Chester||148||3.8||2.46||95.4||66||66||81.4|
|38||Leeds Arts University||148||4.29||100||81.1|
|39||York St John University||128||4.21||2.84||86||76||80||81|
|40||University of Lincoln||136||3.73||3.04||94.2||54||70||80.7|
|41||Brunel University London||4.05||2.85||94.7||50||60||80.6|
|42||University of Winchester||125||4.24||2.86||90||64||66||80.4|
|44||Edinburgh Napier University||197||4.09||1.95||95.8||58||66||79.9|
|45||University of Chichester||151||3.72||2.25||94||64||64||79.2|
|46||Oxford Brookes University||129||3.76||2.63||90.2||72||68||78.9|
|47||Goldsmiths, University of London||136||3.27||3.19||90.5||64||66||78.8|
|48||Bath Spa University||127||3.78||2.61||94.8||64||68||78.5|
|49||University of Sussex||135||3.94||3.19||87.2||54||60||78.4|
|50||University of Salford||139||4.11||2.78||88.6||58||66||78.2|
|51||University of West London||135||3.62||2.78||91.1||64||64||78.1|
|52||University of Gloucestershire||114||4.12||2.69||91||60||70||78|
|53||Liverpool Hope University||123||3.91||2.63||90.6||58||76||77.9|
|54||University of Bedfordshire||131||4.32||99||62||66||77.8|
|55||Rose Bruford College||3.86||2.35||95||52||74||77.6|
|56||Canterbury Christ Church University||107||3.99||2.96||87.7||62||82||77.3|
|57||University of South Wales||133||3.95||1.55||94.4||64||72||77.2|
|59||Leeds Beckett University||136||3.97||2.29||91.7||56||66||76.7|
|60||University of Derby||4.13||2.46||93.3||46||64||76.7|
|63||De Montfort University||136||4.05||3.05||86.3||50||62||76.4|
|64||University of Hertfordshire||115||4.01||2.71||93.6||58||58||76.2|
|65||University for the Creative Arts||107||4.35||3.06||95.8||40||56||76|
|66||Edge Hill University||138||3.84||2.94||87.2||44||68||75.7|
|67||University of Greenwich||157||3.84||95.2||54||54||75.5|
|69||University of Hull||117||4.08||2.88||85.9||50||58||74.3|
|70||Nottingham Trent University||126||4.04||92||66||66||74.2|
|71||Solent University (Southampton)||141||3.89||1.94||90.8||56||54||73.8|
|72||Anglia Ruskin University||3.41||3.35||83.3||50||70||73.7|
|73||University of Wales Trinity Saint David||149||3.91||86.8||56||70||73.3|
|74||University of the Highlands and Islands (UHI)||4.11||90.9||52||76||73.2|
|75||University of Northampton||124||3.46||2.23||88.7||60||60||72.7|
|77||University of Central Lancashire||126||3.3||2.29||85||56||58||70.1|
|78||Buckinghamshire New University||131||3.98||83.3||60||64||70|
|79||Liverpool John Moores University||130||4.02||82.1||58||64||69.2|
|80||University of Westminster, London||120||3.77||84.8||74||50||69.1|
|81||University of the West of Scotland||160||3.63||2.35||82.3||48||60||68.1|
|82||London South Bank University||86||4.04||2.82||81.8||38||66||66.5|
|83||University of Sunderland||84||3.93||3.21||78.9||40||64||66.1|
Will AI Replace Artists?
Artistry is deeply rooted in human emotions, experiences, and creativity. While AI has shown impressive capabilities in generating art, music, and other creative works, it is not poised to replace artists.
Artists bring unique perspectives, emotions, and narratives to their creations, making their work a reflection of human culture and individuality. AI-generated art may serve as a source of inspiration or collaboration, but the essence of artistic expression lies in the depth of human experience. The future is likely to see artists embracing AI tools as a means of enhancing their creative process, leading to new forms of artistic expression.
How are the Rankings Measured?
The ranking methodology includes several key indicators, such as teaching quality, research output and reputation, industry connections and engagement, international diversity, and citations. These indicators help evaluate the academic environment, resources, faculty expertise, and global impact of relevant institutions. The rankings also consider factors like student satisfaction, graduate employability, and the influence and reach of research conducted by the universities.
Frequently Asked Questions about UK Music Universities
Entry requirements vary between universities, but typically include academic qualifications such as A-levels or their equivalent. Additionally, a performance audition or submission of a portfolio may be required to assess your musical abilities.
Depending on the university, it may be possible to study multiple instruments or disciplines within a music degree programme. Some programmes offer flexibility and allow students to explore various musical areas, while others may have more specific requirements.
The curriculum typically includes a balance of practical and theoretical subjects, such as music theory, music history, composition, performance, ensemble work, and music technology. Some programmes also offer opportunities for specialisation or focus on specific genres or instruments.
Yes, music programmes often provide numerous performance opportunities. Students may participate in concerts, recitals, ensembles, and workshops, both within the university and at external venues. These experiences help develop their performance skills and build their portfolios.
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